Friday 17 November 2017

Alive by Piers Paul Read

Alive: The True Story of the Andes SurvivorsAlive: The True Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 4 days

Pages - 320

Publisher - Arrow

Source - Amazon

In 1972, a Fairchild plane carrying forty-five passengers, including the Uruguayan rugby team, crashed in the Andes mountains. The thirty-two survivors were hopelessly lost in one of the most remote places on earth.

After eight days of heavy snowfall, the rescue attempt was abandoned. Even if the plane could be found, the likelihood of the forty-five passengers and crew being discovered alive was remote. Yet ten weeks later two emaciated men fell to their knees at the sight of a Chilean peasant tending his cattle in a remote Andean valley. After finally persuading the incredulous authorities that they really were passengers from the missing plane, the two men led a rescue team to the site of the crash, the remaining fourteen survivors and a tale of horrific bravery.

Putting to rest the rumours and criticism the survivors suffered, Alive exposes the inescapable truth and stark courageousness of how they lived to tell their story. Weakened by starvation, extreme cold, and by the awful knowledge that the search had been called off, the survivors had to face the torturous reality of their situation: to live, they must eat the flesh of their dead companions...

My Review

The book opens with a brief acknowledgement from the author to the folk who helped him with his writing and the honest feedback from the survivors after reading it. The book is about the true story of the survivors of the plane that crashed in the Andes mountains in 1972. We open with a wee bit of background on the country, the passengers and then follow them on their journey before boarding, during flight and after the crash. The is the true story of what the survivors endured, what happened to everyone on board and how they survived to have their story told.

I had seen the movie years ago but I had never read the book. I think whilst it is safe to say the movie itself is emotional it doesn't pack half the punch of the tale within the book. Friendship, terror, starvation, survival, situations most of us cannot conceive of, these people lived through it. I could have read the book in one sitting but for the fact it was so horrific, knowing these poor souls went through it, actually lived through it and the suffering of those who did not, heartbreaking.This edition of the book has photographs in two sections, none are graphic or show remains, it is photographs of the team before take off and on the plane, afterwards some of the survivors, rescue and the grave on the mountain.

It is not a book for the faint hearted, some decisions you just cannot imagine ever having to make, cannibalism, life and death and through it all, friendship, faith and religion. You just cannot imagine it and I had to keep putting the book down to process my thoughts and feelings and that was just me reading of their experience. I would have liked to have known more about the survivors, the book does look briefly at the immediate after but in contrast to the before and during it was very little. I hope wherever they are they have found peace, this is a book that will stay with me long after the last page was turned, 4/5 for me.

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  1. Great review and I totally agree with your point about how none of us can know what we would do in the terrible situation these passengers found themselves in. That's why we should never judge. I too hope they found peace.

  2. Super review.

    I read this a long time ago. I seem to remember parts of it very well. It really was an amazing story of survival.

    Survivor Roberto Canessa has written a more recent book on his experiences called I Had to Survive. I have not read it but I have heard that he attributes his experiences to his subsequent life of altruism.

  3. Lainy, this sounds like a very intense book about the true story of the survivors of the plane that crashed in the Andes mountains in 1972. Terrific review.

  4. This does sound intense. This may not be for me now, but perhaps in the future. Brilly review.

  5. Alive was an amazing book. I read about it while searching for good superiorpaper and I was impressed by it. So I decided to give it a read and I am really glad that I did.


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